One of the greatest achievements in John Wayne's career was his late career performance in director Mark Rydell's 1972 film "The Cowboys". The movie was a major hit for Warner Brothers but as acclaimed screenwriter Josh Olson points out in his analysis of the film on Joe Dante's "Trailers From Hell" web site, the flick never got the critical acclaim it deserved. The Vietnam War was still raging and Wayne's unapologetic support of it didn't sit well with the critical establishment.
Pressbook promotion for appearance by John Wayne at the film's opening at Radio City Music Hall.
In my humble opinion, the Duke was robbed of a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his superb performance as an aging cattleman who is so desperate to get his herd to market that he hires a group of schoolboys as drivers. Along the way, the kids and Wayne experience humor, pathos, death and any number of life lessons, including a tragic confrontation with rustlers led by Bruce Dern, who brings to life one of the great villains in screen history. The film also features a gem of a performance by Roscoe Lee Browne as Wayne's companion and cook for the cattle drive. Both Dern and Browne should have also received Oscar nominations but "The Cowboys" had the misfortune of being released in January of 1972- and had all but faded from Academy member's minds by the time the nominations were being considered a full year later. It was also the same year that "The Godfather" dominated most of the major nominations. Nevertheless, as Josh Olson points out, the film's greatness continues to resonate today. (Oh, and there is a magnificent score by John Williams, as well.) Click here to watch the original trailer with or without Josh Olson's commentary track.
In an informative article for The Daily Beast web site, writer Kevin Fallon looks back at the legacy of the legendary movie musical "The Sound of Music", which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Although the film is widely regarded as a classic today, Fallon points out that initial major press reviews indicated the film was not one of the critic's favorite things. The movie was panned as being syrupy and even absurd, with one critic stating that Captain Von Trapp's revulsion at discovering his children are wearing clothing made from curtains was treated with the same level of crisis as the Nazi annexation of Austria. About the only element of the production to win grudging respect from critics was the lively performance of Julie Andrews. Yet, the film became a boxoffice blockbuster, running for months- and in some cases, years- in the same theaters. It was probably the first major movie to prove to be invulnerable to otherwise overwhelmingly negative reviews. Today, critical consensus is quite different. Everyone would concede the film is saccharine sweet and simplifies, not only the real life story of the Von Trapps, but history itself. Nevertheless, it seems hard to believe that critics of the day were seemingly immune to the greatness of the Rodgers and Hammerstein score, if nothing else. Click here to read.
There was a time when the drive-in theater was a mainstay of American movie-going. However, the drive-ins got squeezed out of most urban area when the value of real estate skyrocketed. Suddenly it became far more attractive to lease land to a zillion dollar shopping center than to a guy who was showing double features. There are still drive-ins in the United States and they are, as is the case with all vanishing ways of life, highly cherished by retro movie lovers and nostalgia buffs. However, the demise of the drive-in theater craze wasn't entirely due to real estate values. As films became more sophisticated, so did audiences. Who wants to see the newest Star Wars or Bond flick at a venue where the screen was a football field away and the sound came through a tinny speaker inside your car? Adding to the challenge of running a successful drive-in were the new liberties available to filmmakers beginning in the mid-to-late 1960s. As major motion pictures increasingly depicted nudity, drive-in theaters became the focal point of local protests when parents complained that little Jack or little Jill could see those big bad bare bosoms- and worse- on the big screen in color when the family went for an outing. The result was a plethora of lawsuits and legal obstacles. Yet, some drive-ins continued to persevere- even those that switched to showing outright porn exclusively. In an article in the Daily Beast, writer Steve Miller looks back on the rise and fall of drive-ins and the legal challenges they faced. (There still is one drive-in operating in Texas that shows strictly porn, which gives a whole new interpretation to the old saying, "Everything is bigger in Texas!")Click here to read
"I'm a whore. All actors are whores. We sell our bodies to the highest bidder."- William Holden
Cinema Retro columnist Dean Brierly has launched a blog dedicated to memorable quotes from hard-bitten movie actors of days past. The site provides rare insights and observations culled from interviews with the likes of William Holden, Robert Ryan, Barbara Stanwyck, Jan Sterling, Fred MacMurray, Lee Van Cleef and many others. Click here to check it out.
Welch promotes Chelsea on the set of Hannie Caulder.
When you think of legendary British football teams, the image of Raquel Welch doesn't usually come foremost to the mind. However, in 1972 the Hollywood icon attended a Chelsea vs. Leicester City match and- intentionally or naively- managed to upstage the game itself. It was all part of an elaborate PR gimmick devised in part by famed photographer Terry O'Neill who had been photographing Welch on the set of her Western film "Hannie Caulder" (he even got her to pose in a Chelsea kit for some on-set photos.) Whether Welch really understood or gave a hoot about British football teams, the ploy worked and resulted in one of the most memorable games in memory. The Daily Mail relives the big day and presents a series of fascinating photos. Click here to view.
Mitchum in one of his greatest performances, as the murderous preacher in Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter".
In a quixotic quest to act tough, some of today's male movie stars just come across as pathetic. They pepper their sentences with vulgarities and hide behind their Facebook and Twitter accounts to take on their adversaries and make outrageous statements that are far more pretentious than they are provocative. There was a time, however, when Hollywood boasted some real tough guys - and toughest of them all was Robert Mitchum. A biography of him is titled "Baby, I Don't Care" because, well, he really didn't care about his public persona or what studio bosses or critics thought of him. Mitchum was underrated as an actor and never got the recognition he deserved. Part of that was his own fault. He often starred in lackluster films in search of an easy paycheck. But there were plenty of gems, as well. He arguably should have been nominated for Oscars for his performances in films we now regard as classics: "Night of the Hunter", "Cape Fear" and "Farewell, My Lovely". But Mitchum alienated off a lot of the power players in the studio system by refusing to kowtow to their wishes. Even among those who liked him, he was a moody, unpredictable guy to hang around with: charming one minute, menacing the next. Writer Robert Ward got rare access to the star back in 1983 and wrote an extensive and fascinating look at the time he spent with him. The Daily Beast has recently republished the article as a tribute to Mitchum, who died in 1998.
On the ancestry.com web site, Connie Ray by-lines an article titled "6 Things You Didn't Know About Bonnie and Clyde". Trouble is, the only way you wouldn't know some of them is if you never saw the classic 1967 film which accurately presented this information. On the other hand, there are some interesting facts about the "real" vs. "reel" notorious couple that may surprise you- oh, and you probably know they didn't have the slightest resemblance to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Click here to read.
Most "best of" or "worst of" lists are largely valueless because they only reflect the personal opinion of the writer. Nevertheless, they are fun to debate and we're as addicted to them as anyone else. One of the more annoying aspects of such lists, at least as it pertains to movies, is that many younger writers seem to have little frame of reference beyond the films that were released in their lifetimes. Thus, we end up seeing many dubious choices in their "ten best" lists, which might be stuffed with Will Smith or John Hughes movies. An exception is writer Christian Blauvelt who supplies his own list of his ten best movie sequels of all time for the BBC web site. The choices are well-thought out and he makes a cogent argument to include "Pursuit to Algiers", one of the largely unheralded Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes flicks. Way to go, Christian! Click here to read.
Regular readers know that every Christmas, Cinema Retro pays homage to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the Citizen Kane of all movies relating to Santa Claus battling creatures from other planets. The 1964 $20,000 wonder has been a cinematic legend among bad movie lovers. We're happy to present the entire film for your (guilty) viewing pleasure.
The web site Geek Tyrant presents evidence to bolster their opinion that, in the world of Batman actors, Adam West is still the guy who kicks ass most. Writer Mick Joest displays five key things that West's Batman could do that no other actor ever attempted in their interpretation of the Caped Crusader...Click here to read and view clips.
Holy hole in the doughnut! Click below to order the new Batman boxed sets from Amazon!
It's always fun to look back on how retro films were regarded by critics at the time of their initial release. Here is the evaluation of Frank Sinatra's 1967 hit "Tony Rome" as written by a new, upcoming film critic named Roger Ebert!
The Huffington Post unveils 5 plot holes they claim you never noticed in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. However, we're not naive enough to believe there aren't many scholars of the film who haven't already discovered these. Nonetheless, for those who aren't as well versed in the "Star Wars" universe, this article may be illuminating and amusing. Click here to read.
Joe Dante's "Trailers from Hell" web site features another esteemed director, John Landis, providing commentary and observations about Roger Vadim's wacko 1971 sexploitation/comedy/murder mystery "Pretty Maids All in a Row". Landis points out that MGM was at death's door from a financial standpoint and to stay alive, the studio started grinding out exploitation films that were given a glossier look by the casting of reputable big names in the lead roles. "Pretty Maids" finds Rock Hudson, giving a terrific performance, as a lecherous high school coach who systematically beds seemingly every good looking, under-age female student he comes in contact with. There is no shortage of them, either. Vadim's cinematic wet dream finds every girl to be a sex-crazed, jaw-dropping beauty. That can also describe Angie Dickinson, a cougar teacher with a habit of seducing under-aged male students. Things start to go awry when some of the girls start turning up dead. Telly Savalas is the L.A. police detective assigned to crack the case. The inspired supporting cast includes Roddy McDowell and Keenan Wynn. As Landis observes, the film is outrageously sleazy and politically incorrect and it would be inconceivable for any major studio to even consider releasing it today. (Needless to say, we love it.) However, back in the crazy '70s, both studios and filmmakers were far more daring and far less apologetic about their undertakings on screen. Bizarrely, the film was written and produced by Gene Roddenberry. Go figure.
Click here to view the trailer with or without the Landis commentary.
Don't you hate it when you're at an elegant cocktail party on Park Avenue or in Mayfair, and that inevitable snob arrives who starts informing everyone that he or she knows absolutely everything about "The Brady Bunch"? Like you, it's happened to us dozens of times....But the good news is, we can now provide some facts about the cheesy classic that will allow you to take the air out of that know-it-all's balloon. For example, the actresses who played Cindy and Marcia apparently still can't stand each other in real life (who knew they were "Method" actors?); the exterior of the Brady house was a real home; you never saw a toilet despite all the scenes set in the bathroom and although the show has gained status as a legendary "guilty pleasure", it wasn't a demonstrable hit when if first aired. Click here to read.
"The Addams Family" TV series is now fifty years old. Life magazine covered the casting sessions of the series back in the day and have just published rare photos from those sessions, many of which have never been printed before. The sheer perfection of the final cast indicates the value of those unsung heroes, casting directors. It would be inconceivable to associate other actors with the roles, but it is fascinating to look at images of those who were in contention. By the way, did you know that Ted Cassidy, who played Lurch, also doubled as the disembodied hand known as "Thing"??? Click here to read.
Those were the days, my friend. Consider what was playing in theaters during this one week in 1965: "The Sound of Music" (42 weeks in the same theater!), "The Americanization of Emily", "Thunderball", "Lord Jim", "The Hallelujah Trail", "That Darn Cat", "My Fair Lady" and "Where the Spies Are".
The "Trailers From Hell" web site presents the original theatrical trailer for Roger Corman's adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tomb of Ligeia", yet another of his successful collaborations with sunglass-clad Vincent Price, who seemed to be channeling Roy Orbison. The site's founder, Joe Dante himself, provides the commentary track for the trailer. Click here to listen.
For a brief, shining moment in history the region in and around Almeria, Spain served as the primary for dozens of Italian and other European Westerns during the "Spaghetti Western" craze of the 1960s and 1970s. Spain was often used as stand-in for the American West but the Spaghetti Westerns skyrocketed in popularity with the 1964 release of Sergio Leone's revisionist Western A Fistful of Dollars in 1964, followed by its sequels, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Several years later, Leone would film much of epic Western Once Upon a Time in the West in Almeria's Tabernas Desert. Interest in the genre extended into the mid 1970s when an overabundance of Leone wanna-be directors clogged theater circuits with cheap imitations of his work. Gradually, film location work in the area ground to a halt. In a remarkable photo essay for the Daily Mail, photographer Sarah Orndhorf visited the sites and sets as they appear today. Some are well-preserved tourist attractions while others are deteriorating. Among the other films shot in this region were Lawrence of Arabia, Play Dirty and The Hill. To view click here
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell site presents the original theatrical trailer for John Huston's "The Man Who Would Be King" starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer. Watch it in its original format or with commentary track by award-winning screenwriter Josh Olson. Click here to view
The date was September 18, 1970 and Dick Cavett, host of his own acclaimed late night chat show, must have felt he had a coup by landing three top actors to appear on that night's broadcast. They were John Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara- none of whom had the Brando or Sinatra-like reputation of being a "bad boy". The three were making the rounds to promote Cassavetes new directorial effort, the feature film "Husbands". As director, Cassavetes believed in having his actors improvise and say whatever might come into their heads. That strategy should not have carried over into the medium of television, however. In an article for the New Yorker magazine, Dick Cavett recalls how this talented trio turned his show into a nightmare. The actors, who were probably drunk, were as obnoxious as anyone could imagine, pulling juvenile pranks and being as rude as possible to Cavett and his audience. Nervous, jittery laughter turned into outrage on the part of the audience and viewers at home. Click here for Cavett's recollections and to view the infamous episode.
Linda Lovelace, star of the first mainstream porn flick, Deep Throat.
Rolling Stone presents an interesting slide show photo presentation of 8 notorious porn stars whose careers were affected for better or worse by some scandal that made national news. Click here to read.
Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run was pivotal in launching his career as a credible actor and leading man. Although considered a comedy classic today, the 1969 film actually lost money at the time of its release.
By Brian Hannan
All you need is top stars and top directors and
making movies is easy. Surely you couldn’t miss with a line-up that included
Sean Connery, Steve McQueen, Michael Caine, Dustin Hoffman, Lee Marvin, Omar
Sharif, and directors of the calibre of Robert Aldrich (hot after The Dirty Dozen), John Boorman (Point Blank) and Woody Allen. Or so ABC
must have thought when it set up a movie division in the late 1960s. Delving
into the archives recently, I discovered that Sam Peckinpah’s rodeo picture Junior Bonner (1972) starring Steve
McQueen was a box office stinkeroo. The picture lost $2.8m (about $15m in
today’s money). Not just on domestic release, but worldwide.
The movie was made by ABC in a disastrous five-year
foray into the movie business and McQueen was not alone in being on the
receiving end of a lot of red ink. The Sean Connery-Brigitte Bardot western Shalako (1968) directed by the veteran
Edward Dymytryk (The Carpetbaggers, The
Young Lions) was another loser - $1.25m
down the drain. At least Peckinpah redeemed himself with Straw Dogs (1973) starring Hoffman which ponied up $1.45m in
profits. Lee Marvin in John Boorman’s war film Hell in the Pacific (1968) dug a box office foxhole so deep it
buried a loss of $4.1m. But the biggest loser was Michael Caine. War picture Too Late the Hero (1970), directed by
Robert Aldrich and equally set in the Pacific, kissed goodbye to a colossal
$6.7m. And that was not the worst of it for Caine. The Last
Valley (1971), a historical drama set in the One Hundred Years War in
medieval Europe, written and directed by James Clavell (writer of Tai Pan and director of To Sir with Love) and co-starring Omar
Sharif, tanked to the tune of $7.1. Aldrich had little luck with ABC – his
lesbian drama The Killing of Sister
George (1968) starring Susannah York lost $750,000 and kidnap thriller The Grissom Gang (1971) another $3m.
The Oscar-nominated They Shoot Horses, Don’t They that restored Jane Fonda’s acting
credibility was $1.2m shy of break-even. Even Woody Allen’s magic touch
deserted him – Take the Money and Run
(1969) in the hole for $610,000. Check out the resume of Exorcist author and Exorcist
III director William Peter Blatty and you won’t find mention of Mastermind, starring Zero Mostel. At one
point it was set for a May 1970 release, but never saw the light of day. All
told ABC lost $47m before it threw in the towel.
Brian Hannan is the author of The Making of the Guns of Navarone (Baroliant Press).
UPDATE: The information contained in this article was derived from a 1973 article in Variety. It should be pointed out that the grosses cited for Shalako were U.S. only. Producer Euan Lloyd had different film companies buy the rights to release the film in various countries. ABC controlled the American rights. Also, funding for the film would not have come strictly from ABC. Lloyd would finance his productions by pre-selling them to various international territories, so ABC would not have funded the entire cost of the film. As the production was said to have done considerable business in the international market, it may well be that it was a profitable venture.
We all know the cautionary tale: "Be careful what you wish for- you just might get it!" That certainly applies to those who seek fame and fortune in show business. Child stars are particularly vulnerable to the down side of the industry. One day they are lauded as major stars, the next they can be seen as washed-up has-beens. In many cases, they die young through tragic circumstances, many of which are self-imposed. The web site Ranker takes on a sobering journey through the lives of 30 child stars who died long before their time. Click here to view.
One of our loyal subscribers, Rodney Barnett, has his own addictive retro movie blog, Bloody Pit of Rod. He's located some cool, cheesy 1970s original ads for a line of Planet of the Apes toys. We especially love the "Forbidden Zone Trap"! Click here to view.
The toy image above comes from Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive, a super cool site dedicated to everything "Apish". Click here to visit.
Some of the international movie posters presented in Cinema Retro issue #28, which features in-depth coverage of the making of Zulu.
By Brian Hannan
anniversary showing of Zulu in Britain next month is unlikely to be
repeated in the U.S. where the film flopped. But even the poorest box-office performer has an afterlife. So in 1965 Zulu was pushed out again anywhere that
would have it. That meant it supported some odd, not to say ugly, bedfellows –
exploitationer Taboos of the World in
Kansas City, The Three Stooges in The
Outlaws Is Coming in Phoenix, B
western Stage To Thunder Rock in Long Beach, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini in Des Moines and Rhino in Abilene. They liked it in Long Beach where it supported both
Circus World and That Man from Rio. It was the second feature to None But the Brave in Provo, Utah, and to
two more successful Joe E. Levine movies, Yesterday,
Today and Tomorrow in Ironwood, Michigan, and Marriage, Italian Style in Corpus Christi, Texas. Triple bills
being a staple of drive-ins, it was seen with Viva Las Vegas and Beach
Party in Tucson.
But it was not just support
meat. Almost a year after its release, it topped the bill in Helena, Montana,
with Robert Mitchum in Man in the Middle
as support. In Chester it was the main attraction with Homicidal in support. In Weimar, Texas, it was supported by Tarzan the Magnificent and in Bridgeport
by First Men on the Moon. At the
Cecil theatre in Mason City, Iowa, it played on its own, as it did in Colorado
Springs where it was advertised as “in the great tradition of Beau Geste” (supply your own exclamation
But it was not done yet.
Exhibitors in San Mateo had a soft spot for Zulu in 1966. It played there seven
times, as support to The Great Race, Marlon Brando western Appaloosa, Fantastic Voyage
(in two theaters), What’s Up Tiger Lily?, The Leather
Boys and Lawrence of Arabia.
Abilene brought it back twice, for a re-match with Rhino and then in a double bill with Kimberley Jim starring singer Jim Reeves when it was promoted as “a
true story of the Zulu tribe.” Fremont cinemas also ran in twice – with Return of the Seven and Fantastic Voyage. In Troy and Bennington
it rode shotgun with Elvis in Harum
Scarum. In Charleston it supported Arabesque,
in Winona The Second Best Secret Agent and in Long Beach What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
The highlight of 1967 had to
be a double bill with The Daleks (Dr Who and the Daleks) in Delaware, or
perhaps the teaming with Batman in
Cumberland, Maryland, or El Cid in
Ottawa. Zulu returned twice to
Fremont to support Africa Addio and John
Sturges’ Hour of the Gun. In Modesto
it played with Where The Spies Are.
In Long Beach it was put on at a pop concert where the headline act was
Organized Confusion (anybody remember them?). These three years of repeated
showings hardly counted as a proper reissue, but it did cast an interesting
light on what may – or may not – have turned into something of a cult film. In
Britain, where it was a smash hit, it was reissued on the ABC circuit in 1967
Brian Hannan is the author
of the forthcoming The Reissue Bible.
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell site presents the original theatrical trailer for John Boorman's classic 1972 screen adaptation of James Dickey's "Deliverance" starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds and Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty, both in their feature film debuts. The trailer includes commentary by film director Neil Labute. Click here to view Click here for Cinema Retro's review of the Blu-ray 40th anniversary release.
Every aspect of Alfred Hitchcock's career and films has been analyzed by countless film historians. But writer Shaun Chang has a new angle to pursue: a look at how the menswear featured in Hitch's films provides insights into his leading characters. Click here to read.
Curly and Shemp were long gone but even in the 1960s, the "new" Three Stooges continued to gain popularity with a younger generation. The slapstick kings "starred" in a series of cartoons and even inspired a long-running comic book series published by Gold Key. The web blog 1966 My Favorite Year presents a gallery of Stooges comics covers. Click here to view.
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell presents the teaser trailer for Paint Your Wagon, the 1969 mega flop musical starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. This is yet another epic film that has judged by its boxoffice results instead of its artistic merits. Fortunately, Alan Spencer provides a good introduction and narration to the trailer and points out the film's attributes. The downside is that this teaser trailer itself runs only one minute but Spencer provides plenty of insightful facts into his commentary. Click here to view
The addictive pop culture blog Hill Place presents an impassioned defense of Tina Louise as Ginger over Dawn Wells as Mary Ann on the Gilligan's Island TV sitcom. Retro TV lovers have long been debating who was the hottest chick on the isle: sweet but sexy "good girl Mary Ann or "bad girl" diva Ginger. It's amazing how compelling this article actually is, as it delves into the behind-the-scenes rivalry between the two actresses. Click here to read
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell web site presents the original theatrical trailer for the British crime classic Get Carter starring Michael Caine, directed by Mike Hodges. Diretor Neil Marshall is an admirer of the film and provides the commentary track over the trailer, which can also be viewed without commentary. Click here to view
Dateline Hollywood, March 21, 1967: Steve McQueen gets the honor of having his handprints immortalized in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, as commemorated in this snippet from a British film magazine of the era.
The AMC Filmsite presents an interesting decade-by-decade analysis of the greatest boxoffice disasters of all time. Author Tim Dirks points out what many critics fail to: that some of these films, such as Cleopatra, were extremely popular with audiences but their extravagant production costs caused the studios to bleed red ink. He also includes a caveat that some films that lost great sums in initial release were able to slide into profitability over many years through TV rights and video sales. Dirks is also not part of the crowd of critics who pile on every movie that lost money. He makes the case for some films of artistic merit such as Friedkin's Sorcerer, despite the fact that it was a boxoffice flop. The charts adjust the boxoffice grosses for inflation, which gives new relevance to what the greatest flops really were. Click here to read.
What a year it was! In 1966, you could see the following movies playing locally in Winnipeg, Canada: Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers, James Coburn as Our Man Flint, The Trouble With Angels, Carry on Cleo, The Sound of Music and a quadruple feature of monsters flicks: Die Monster, Die, Eegah, Tomb of Ligeia and Planet of the Vampires.
With all the (deserved)
appreciation of Zulu, it’s hard to
imagine it was a massive flop in the US. Independent producer Joe Levine
planned a double whammy for summer 1963 – The
Carpetbaggers, an adaptation of the sizzling Harold Robbins bestseller, and
Zulu. He even arranged for Zulu to follow The Carpetbaggers into
the prestigious Palace first run cinema in New York. Spending big, Levine,
whipped up a huge marketing campaign for Zulu,
which had notched up record grosses in the UK.
But the two films could not
have been further apart. Where The
Carpetbaggers stormed to $862,000 from 25 theatres in the New York area, Zulu could only manage $190,000 from 30
in Los Angeles. Zulu scored well in
first run in Detroit (running four weeks) and Chicago, but was quickly (perhaps
too quickly) consigned to drive-ins. Failure to find a niche was not for want
of trying. In successive weeks in LA, it was supported by Nicholas Ray's epic 55 Days At Peking, comedy Ensign Pulver, and Viking adventure The Long Ships.
To salvage something, Levine send it out, within a couple of months
of initial release, as the support film to Italian-made Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow starring Italian sexpot Sophia Loren,
possibly one of the strangest movie programs of all time. In the annual box
office rankings, The Carpetbaggers
placed second. To get into the Variety
annual chart, you needed to make more than $1m in rentals (the amount the
studio received after the cinema had taken its cut). Seventy-eight movies
managed this. Zulu was not one of
(Brian Hannan is the author
of the forthcoming The Reissue Bible.)
The addictive retro web site Avengers in Time presents a short but heartfelt tribute to the classic British TV series The Persuaders starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore as rich playboys who get swept up in incredible adventures. The expensive 1971 series was produced by Lew Grade and didn't last long. Although it was very popular internationally, it never caught on in the all-important American market and was thus canceled. However, this did free up Roger Moore to take over the role of James Bond, thus providing a silver lining for his fans. Click here to access tribute page which includes the superb opening credits with music by John Barry. It makes it all the more painful that many of today's TV series dispense with opening credits altogether.
Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde had all the makings of
a substantial hit when it opened in August 1967, its take increasing every week
for four weeks at the Forum and Murray Hill cinemas in New York. The violence,
the fashion, the birth of a new star (Faye Dunaway) and the rebirth of an old
one (Warren Beatty) attracted acres of publicity. But somewhere along the way,
the movie lost momentum, ending the year at a lowly 37th on the
annual box office chart. But in December, Joseph Morgenstern of Newsweek revised his previous negative
review and a week later Time magazine
devoted six pages to ‘the movie of the year’. Although Beatty, also the producer, agitated
for a reissue, Warner Brothers hardly went hell-for-leather. It reopened at the
394-seat New View in Los Angeles and the even smaller 160-seat Janus Two in
Washington. The week before in LA at the 810-seater Vogue Bonnie and Clyde grossed $16,000 but, backed by a new campaign, the
much smaller New View generated $22,000, with queues, not surprisingly, around
the block. Elsewhere, the movie was booked into small cinemas where the
prospect of a holdover was high. The publicity machine kicked into top gear as the
Oscars approached (it was nominated for ten). When re-launched in over 300
cinemas, it spread like wildfire. A second stab in St Louis broke the house
record. Compared to original release,
takings in most cinemas doubled. In Los Angeles it broke the record for a ‘multiple
run’ (wide release) and challenged Mary Poppins’ record for most chart
appearances by a non-roadshow in Variety’s
weekly box office Top Ten. The reissue supplemented the original $5m gross
by another $33m.
From The Reissue Bible by Brian Hannan to be published later this year.
(Click here for review of Bonnie and Clyde DVD special edition)
Fritz Weaver discusses the making of Fail Safe with Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer at a 2009 screening of the film at The Players club in New York City.
Sidney Lumet's 1964 thriller Fail Safe centers on an accidental launch of an American nuclear bomber strike on Moscow and the frantic efforts of the U.S. President (superbly played by Henry Fonda) to convince the Soviet premiere not to retaliate. The tension-packed film was a boxoffice dud at the time, despite glowing reviews. That is because Stanley Kubrick convinced Columbia to buy the rights to the film and shelve it until after his similarly-themed Dr. Strangelove went into release. Kubrick rationalized that if Fail Safe were released first, the impact would have been so great on the public that no one would have accepted a satirical version of the same premise. The result? Strangelove became a boxoffice smash while Fail Safe took many years to reach its intended audience through television broadcasts. The film has no musical score and is masterfully shot in a documentary-like style. There are outstanding performances by Walter Matthau, Dan O'Herlihy, Frank Overton, Larry Hagman and- in his big screen debut- Fritz Weaver. Look for Dom DeLuise in a rare dramatic role.
Click here to order special DVD edition from Amazon
Loren did receive equal line billing with Charlton Heston in print ads for El Cid (as indicated by this trade magazine advertisement for the film's reissue). However, she was appalled to find that the billing arrangement on a Times Square billboard had relegated her name to an area below Heston's.
By Brian Hannan
A row broke out
this week in Italy over promoters choosing to give Brad Pitt top billing for 12
Years A Slave, a film that depicts the plight of an African American man played
by Chiwetel Ejiofor. That reminded me of a lawsuit brought by Sophia Loren over
El Cid in January 1962.Although
contractually guaranteed equal billing with Charlton Heston, her name had been
featured below his on an electric billboard in Times Square in New York
promoting the Samuel Bronston roadshow presentation at the Warner Theatre. Her name
on the billboard was in equal size to Heston’s but she demanded it should be on
the same line. She sought a temporary injunction in the New York Supreme Court
to stop the sign being used and, in a drastic turn of events, then demanded her
name be removed entirely from all promotion to do with the film. She claimed
the action had damaged her prestige and reputation. The New York court
disagreed. Aggrieved at being denied the temporary injunction, she was set to
continue her lawsuit and there was a stalemate for several days in February until
common sense prevailed. Loren was no stranger to rows over billing and later
had a titanic tussle with Marlon Brando over who got top billing on The Countess
From Hong Kong. She lost that one, too.
Click here to read the original formal complaint filed by Sophia Loren's attorneys.
If you love director Richard Brooks' slam-bang 1966 Western The Professionals as much as we do, you should click here to gaze at some great international posters from the film that starred Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale (at her hottest!), Jack Palance, Woody Strode and Ralph Bellamy. It's part of Steve Thompson's blog celebrating his favorite year: 1966, and what baby boomer could argue with him?
From the rumored suicide of a Munchkin to debates about how many dresses Dorothy wears, there are still controversies attached to the beloved 1939 MGM screen version of The Wizard of Oz. Click here to find the facts behind the legends.
The "Trailers From Hell" web site presents the original trailer for the 1972 Western Chato's Land starring Charles Bronson. John Landis provides an amusing commentary for the trailer, reflecting on his experiences working on the film and enduring the "Mad Dog and Englishman" himself, director Michael Winner. Click here to watch
Joe Dante's addictive Trailers From Hell site presents the re-release trailer for the MGM Laurel and Hardy classic Way Out West. Director John Landis provides commentary for the 1937 film and there is an option to watch the trailer with its original narration. Click here to view
Unseen blooper reel footage has surfaced from the 1976 filming of the original Star Wars movie. Before anyone gets carried away, the snippets are disjointed and only moderately amusing. Nevertheless, any footage that we haven't seen is more than welcome. The blooper reel is being included in a new interactive book, The Making of Star Wars. To view the reel (some of which has no audio) click here
To order the book discounted from Amazon click here
Here's a great way to kick off Halloween...watch Ted Cassidy's 1965 appearance on Shindig in which he leads a groovy rendition of "The Lurch", the song he immortalized on The Addams Family. Cassidy even cut a hit 45 RPM of the song!